Transformation Tuesday: 102 Days In Hell

Carly BensonTransformation0 Comments

transformation grace

transformation grace

Since starting Miracles Are Brewing, I have been approached by many people for advice on getting sober, which tends to lend itself to a conversation of faith as well. Last August I was introduced to a friend of a friend who was at the height of a breakdown from alcoholism, addiction and the harsh reality that he might be faced with incarceration. Since then his story has quickly become one of such an inspiring transformation.

Scanning back through our conversations he was lost, confused, frustrated and knew change was necessary, but yet it seemed so unattainable. He was scared, ridden with fear and anxiety, crippled with negative thinking and felt like God and faith were distant concepts.

As we became friends and conversed, I offered advice to him. I suggested that he needed to change his thinking and I asked him to give reading the Bible a try. He was open to the idea and began his spiritual journey.

After a about 3 weeks, he had fallen off the wagon, tried to get back on and then unfortunately his fate landed him with a jail sentencing.  We lost touch for a bit while he served his time. I continued to pray for him and had a feeling God would take care of the rest.

In my quest to help others, I’m certain this story demonstrates what so many people who are battling alcoholism and addiction are faced with…

Desperation.

The feeling that the mountain ahead is far too big to climb.

Anxiety coupled with terrifying fear.

Confusion.

Questions like…

Is God real?

How can I possibly get through this?

Where do I start?

We have all been there. Rock bottom is a scary place. It rattles and shakes us to our core. It challenges us to ends of ourselves that we did not know existed.

I want to share this story with you to show that it can be done. You are not alone. Change is possible. And it is beautiful.

This is a guest post about transformation, overcoming rock bottom and ultimately another testimony of God’s sweet and saving grace.

Enter Anthony Damrow…

I don’t ever recall being a “social drinker” and then transitioning into a heavy drinker. From as far back as I can remember I drank for one reason and one reason only: to get drunk! For me, drinking an alcoholic beverage for any other reason was a waste of alcohol. It took 3 DUI’s, 102 days in prison and a lot of heartache and loss for me to realize that I was (am) an alcoholic and needed to quit drinking for life—to  have a life and to save my life.

In 2003 and again in 2004 I was arrested in Minnesota for the crime of “OWI” or “Operating While Intoxicated.”  Both times I was given some hefty fines, lost my license, was placed on probation, however, I never served any real time behind bars. It wasn’t until March of 2013, 10 years later, when I was arrested for the third time when my luck had finally run out. I was sentenced to 2 years in prison and not even my high-priced lawyer could get me out of it this time.

I lost my job, my home, my car, my life savings and subsequently my freedom. I had hit that “rock bottom” I had only heard about. I was about to join the ranks of the awful people who fill our jails and prisons. You know, those criminals, druggies, alcoholics – people nothing like me. Actually, people EXACTLY like me!

Before I was arrested the 3rd time, my drinking didn’t occupy very much of my time. At least I didn’t think it did. I “only” spent 2 nights of the week actually drinking, or should I say getting blackout drunk, however, the hangovers and after effects from drinking plagued me throughout the week. I missed work, I skipped social functions, and my piss poor mood was usually attributed to my drinking or withdrawals from not drinking. I was a full blown alcoholic – a functioning drunk, but an alcoholic nevertheless.

It is easy to see now that the things that were taken away from me as a result of my arrest would ultimately be lost due to my drinking eventually anyways. The arrest just sped things up a bit. In prison, there’s nothing much you can do but think and read. And think and read I did!

I learned so much about myself, my addiction and other people in the 102 days that I served of my 2 year sentence than I ever did in a lifetime of public schools or living in the ‘burbs.

The first book I read was “The Big Book” (Alcoholics Anonymous). You see, most of the books that are available in prison, at least when you are still being classified, are religious (mostly Christian) and/or about addiction. As I read, it wasn’t until page 21 that I realized that the book had been written specifically for me. No, not just me; but people like me.  I read…

He is seldom mildly intoxicated. He is always more or less insanely drunk. His disposition while drinking resembles his normal nature but little. He may be one of the finest fellows in the world. Yet let him drink for a day, and he frequently becomes disgustingly, and even dangerously anti-social.”

Whoa!  How could these words first published in 1939 describe me so perfectly? What I know now, but didn’t know then, is that these words could have been written in 1639 and they would still apply to an alcoholic today. Time and socioeconomic class are of no consequence when it comes to addiction. It doesn’t discriminate.

Further evidence of this was revealed to me once I was released from prison and began to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings regularly. Millionaires were seated next to the homeless, and at the end of each meeting, everyone held hands in unity to recite “The Lord’s Prayer.” God was finally starting to reveal to me the answer I had been asking for so long…Why?

Why was I caught drinking and driving 3 times when most of my friends who drink and drive more than me haven’t been caught once?

Why was I sentenced to PRISON when most people don’t even have to go to jail for the same offense?

Why did I have to lose everything (or what I considered to be everything at the time)?

The answer is so simple and so clear to me now.

I needed those 102 days to get sober because I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed to meet the people I did in prison because I had never been exposed to that side of life before and hadn’t realized how lucky I actually was. I had to lose everything to understand that everything is replaceable and that it is people, not things that truly matter.

I’ve heard it said that God has ways of trying to get your attention. And if He is somehow unsuccessful, he’ll drop a piano on you! Well, this was my piano. My blessing. My miracle.

I have been sober now for 190 days and while I cannot tell you that it has been easy, I can say that it is worth it. My mornings are so much brighter now without having to wake up with a hangover. I’m no longer full of the regret and shame that goes along with drinking when you know you shouldn’t be.

I’m still fighting an uphill battle as a result of my addiction and arrest, but it’s nice to know I’m not fighting it alone. I have an important ally that I turn to in times of need and He hasn’t let me down yet. Even when I thought He was punishing me or had abandoned me, in reality He was saving me.

One of the nice things about hitting rock bottom is that it can only get better on the way back up. It might not be easy, but it is possible.

“I didn’t realize how miserable I was until I went to hell and felt better.” –Anthony Damrow

Photo Credit: SpiritVoyage.com